An olive ridley turtle. Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Pawar Pooja
An olive ridley turtle. Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Pawar Pooja

A sea turtle whose species is considered endangered was rescued by police from a restaurant in southern Vietnam during a recent operation.

On July 31, police recovered an olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), known locally as a vich, from captivity in a restaurant in Nha Trang, a city in Khanh Hoa province, VN Express reported.

The olive ridley is among five rare marine turtle species listed by Education of Nature-Vietnam. The natural survival rate is considerably low: only one in 1,000 of them make it into adulthood.

The other four rare species are rua da (leatherback, Dermochelys coriacea), doi moi (hawksbill, Eretmochelys imbricate), quan dong (loggerhead, Cretta caretta) and doi moi dua (green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas).

The Vietnamese government has stepped up its efforts to protect sea turtles but illegal behavior such as catching the reptiles, breeding them in captivity and eating them can still be seen.

Two months ago, two olive ridley turtles in captivity in Ho Chi Minh City and Hai Duong were rescued by appropriate agencies and released in local waters. In the same month, police seized 72 rare sea turtles that were on display at a fine arts and handicrafts shop in Vung Tau. Days later, two souvenir shops in Kien Giang province were found displaying 47 hawksbill sea turtles.

There are only 15,000 female hawksbills left in the world. The species is reportedly hunted for its shell, which can be used in fine-art pieces and jewelry.

In 2014, Hoang Tuan Hai and his brother Hoang Minh Cuong, accused of leading a sea-turtle trafficking ring, were arrested in Nha Trang for allegedly planning to smuggle 7,000 of the reptiles to China, VN Express reported. Hoang Tuan Hai was given a jail term of four and a half years in June this year but his brother was found not guilty.